- Victim empowerment centres across the nation were established by the Department of Social Development as a safe place for citizens to get help and escape abusive and often dangerous situations
- Briefly.co.za recently learnt that employees of some centres in the Gauteng region have been battling to get the salaries that they worked tirelessly to earn
- Despite some staff members not having been paid for 10 months, many have soldiered on in their service to those in need.
South Africans are no strangers to news of fund mismanagement, especially where the state is concerned.
One can be forgiven for not being too shocked by stories of corruption and theft at entities like Eskom, a person could even go as far as saying we have become somewhat numb in this regard. The results of the theft affects the nation as a whole and together, united, we suffer.
The lights go off, and we have a braai with our families. Home affairs is closed today? No problem! We make a plan until they open again.
However, Briefly.co.za has been made aware of a situation that has directly affected the lives of those, who do some of the most honorable work in our country, and the innocent victims they work tirelessly to protect. What happens to the women and children who seek assistance from victim shelters, find them empty?
Workers employed by Polokego Shelter run victim empowerment shelters in Muldersdrift, Munsieville and two branches in Krugersdorp, have gone from protectors to victims themselves.
Employees have come forward, desperate for assistance, telling the story of how they have gone for months without having the income they work so hard to earn. Briefly.co.za learnt that some staff members have sat from as early as May 2018 without being paid.
So who is responsible for this?
This is where the matter gets extremely complicated. Briefly.co.za has seen correspondence in between Polokego Management and the Department of Social Development.
In a letter from December 2018, sent to the department, it can be seen that no definitive answer can be given as to why the payments were not made. Reference is made to issues concerning non-compliance as an NGO, as well as, alleged fund mismanagement by Polokego.
The Department in turn, has said that a forensic investigation into the matter will take place. As far as the payments are concerned, employees are referred back to Polokego.
The resulting fallout
Staff members affected by the non-payment have had their own lives turned upside down by the matter. In an interview with The Daily Sun, one worker spoke of how she had continued to serve victims who came to the shelter:
“I haven’t been paid since April, but I continued to work as I understood how desperately victims of abuse needed these services. In December, we had finally had enough.”
Another employee told Briefly.co.za how the state had failed them, claiming that staff had been sent from pillar to post with no end in sight. The worker explained how she had not received her salary from May 2018 to date. Clearly frustrated, she had asked:
" Where is the minister of social development and the MEC, when we need them...this is a total victimization by our government, we are served by selfish self-centered individuals who put their interest first."
When asked for comment on the matter, another staff member, an Auxiliary Social Worker, spoke of how she now faced unemployment on top of her financial difficulties. She said she had left her job after it had become apparent that there was no clear end in sight.
As far as Briefly.co.za can gather, the victims branch at the Krugersdorp police station, is now unmanned. Reportedly one of the busiest points of contact for victims of abuse and neglect, one wonders what will now happen to those who once came to seek help.
Attempts to reach the state officials involved have been met with dismal results.
As the nation goes into overdrive in anticipation of the May elections, the government floods social media with information promising that the welfare of South Africa's women and children are of paramount importance.
In light of this, how much of it is genuine and how much of it is simply lip-service to mislead the masses?
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